NASCAR has introduced 2 baseline rules packages for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season designed to “promote closer competition and increased opportunities for passing”, as the racing circuit looks to drive fan interest. The revised aerodynamic and engine configurations are expected to “foster tighter racing on the majority of the speedways measuring longer than 1 mile”, a measure intended to return the focus from “engineering and wind tunnels” to the sport’s drivers and “hard side-by-side racing roots.”
Fan Marino: Both television viewership and racetrack attendance are down in ’18, but the last 2 races at Charlotte and Dover experienced YoY growth in TV viewership (attendance figures have not been released). Last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 race at Dover, DE drew a larger television audience (+1%, 1.26 rating on NBCSN) than the same race at the Monster Mile in ’17 (1.25 rating on NBCSN), despite last year’s event holding greater stakes (it was the round of 16 cut-off race) and the Eagles playing head to head just 75 miles north; the week prior NASCAR’s Cup Series race at the ROVAL (road course/oval hybrid) posted a 1.95 rating (+6% YoY) on NBC. This Sunday the racing circuit heads to Talladega “The Biggest & The Fastest” NASCAR has to offer, expect the television audience to match; the 2017 race recorded the highest viewership rating of any ’17 playoff race (2.84 rating, 4.743 million viewers).
Last weekend, Dover International Speedway became the first NASCAR track (including Las Vegas Motor Speedway) to offer on-site sports betting. Fans in attendance could legally place bets on both the Xfinity and Cup Series races in addition to a full slate of college and NFL games. While it’s too early to determine the impact of the race on October’s handle (DDE reported $3.3 million wagered in September), in the 4 months since Delaware began taking sports bets NASCAR races have seen little to no action; just .02% ($60,000) of the $39.77 million wagered on sports had been gambled on circuit competition.
Howie Long-Short: Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment (DDE) operates the sportsbook at Dover International Speedway. Shares of the company are +152% YTD. They rose +42% when SCOTUS struck down in late May, but the biggest gains this year (+56%) came following July’s announced merger with Twin River Worldwide Holdings (has a retail presence in MS, RI and CO); a union that “will help us grow our business, invest in our people and our facilities and compete more effectively given changes in gaming on the horizon.” Upon closing, Twin River will list shares of the company on the NYSE or NASDAQ.
DDE (reports earnings on 10.24) isn’t the only way to invest in Delaware sports betting; Scientific Games, the state’s primary sports betting contractor, is also publicly traded (SGMS). The company is entitled to 15.6% of the net take with the balance split between state, casinos and horse racing industry.
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